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“Castelessness is only a privilege of the upper caste,” says Justice D.Y. Chandrachud

Today, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud emphasised the need of abolishing caste discrimination and stated that we must employ Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s ideas to improve society. “The practise of othering and exclusion must come to an end,” he said, adding that privileged people of society must “break free from the chains of the past” and give marginalised communities recognition and respect.

He remarked that while the professional achievements of upper caste individuals are enough to wash away their caste identification, this will never be true for a lower caste individual, highlighting the stigma linked to a marginalised caste identity.

The 13th B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture on “Conceptualizing Marginalisation: Agency, Assertion, and Personhood” was delivered by Justice Chandrachud. The Indian Institute of Dalit Studies in New Delhi and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung South Asia co-hosted the event.

When it comes to not allowing caste to determine one’s identity, he believes that it is a privilege that only the upper caste can afford. “Members of the lower caste must maintain their caste identity in order to benefit from rules like reservation,” he stated.

The Supreme Court judge compared caste-based marginalisation to other marginalised groups in society, such as women, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities, and stated that when oppression exists, humiliation becomes a part of society; it does not have to be direct and physical, but can be indirect and institutionalised.

“Marginalization affects not only members of the lower caste, but everyone who deviates from the mainstream’s ‘norm’ in terms of gender, sexuality, or other factors,” he stated.

He discussed the “humiliations imposed by institution and society.”

“We established a constitution 72 years ago, based on justice, liberty, and equality for all. However, women were only recognised as equal co-partners in 2005, and homosexuality was only decriminalised in 2018. The discriminatory behaviour is not immediately overturned when a discriminatory statute is repealed. This is a system that perpetuates shame “he stated

He went on to say that while decisions like permitting permanent commission for women and decriminalising homosexuality have been made, the societal changes they can bring about would only be observed in the future.

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